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Critical business technology and how SMEs can afford it

Integrating new technology has always been a key strategy for businesses, but in today’s marketplace, it is more important than ever. But keeping up with the pace of development comes with a price tag. Alternative finance can help small business afford the costs.

Business growth is becoming more and more linked to the adoption of critical technologies. The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is redrawing the manufacturing landscape, while a new age of connectivity, encapsulated in the Internet of Things, is changing the way the world does business.

At the small business level, what this means is the exploration of technologies such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cashless payment systems and mobile-based commerce. It’s an exciting time but the learning curve is a daunting one, not least in terms of identifying which technologies will benefit a business (and which won’t). But adoption is a must, because a failure to do so means getting left behind and being shut out of key revenue streams.

The rise of the cashless economy and the fast growth of mobile payments is a pertinent subject for small business owners. The cost of updating payment systems might be a bitter pill to swallow, but the alternative is more unpalatable. According to a new survey from UK Finance, British consumers used their debit cards 13.2 billion times in 2017, an increase of 14% compared with 2016. Conversely, the number of cash transactions dropped by 15%. Notably, cash payments are forecast to represent just 16% of all transaction in 10 years’ time.

The bottom line is that, in today’s marketplace, consumers expect to be able to use cashless payment methods whenever they go. Businesses have to be prepared.

So, at a time of acute Brexit-related market uncertainty and an unprecedented number of policy and non-policy related costs, how can small business afford the new technologies they need? Alternative finance can help.

In the face of traditional lender caution, services such invoice finance, asset finance, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding are offering small business owners an alternative means of accessing funds for critical investment, such as in new technology.

Illustrative of the growth of this sector is news from the government-backed British Business Bank, for which the offer of alternative finance is a key component, of the launch of a £100m Regional Angels Programme through its commercial subsidiary British Business Investments.

In short, more and more small business owners are turning to non-traditional finance services. This is how a Sussex small business used peer-to-peer lending, through a commercial finance broker that specialises in alternative finance, to raise the money to purchase new equipment.

And this awareness is vital, because despite some serious headwinds, small businesses continue to make their mark. How they approach new technology is integral to their success, now and going forward. Alternative finance can help ensure that these companies have the technologies to stay on the right track.

Want to know more about what A&T Business Associates can do for your business? Contact Jon Rook-Allden on 01903 602211 or jra@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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